Coinbase’s strange QR-code Super Bowl ad briefly crashes app

The app for Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, briefly crashed Sunday after a bizarre Super Bowl ad sparked a surge in traffic.

The 60-second ad featured a floating and colorful QR code bouncing around the screen, similar to a bouncing DVD logo. The QR code directed people to a link offering $15 in Bitcoin to those who sign up for a Coinbase account before February 15. The ad proved so popular that the app crashed for about an hour.

Coinbase had more than 20 million hits on its landing page in one minute and the engagement that was six times higher than previous benchmarks, Surojit Chatterjee, chief product officer at Coinbase, wrote on Twitter. He said that was “historic and unprecedented.”

The app also skyrocketed in popularity, rising from 186th place to 2nd on Apple’s App Store, according to crypto news website the Block.

Coinbase’s stock has been hit hard alongside other companies that recently went public with shares being down 23% this year. Investors have been dumping some riskier stocks as the Federal Reserve prepares to start hiking interest rates.

Cryptocurrency companies spent big to advertise during Sunday’s game, as the industry ramps up efforts to court sports fans. FTX, another crypto exchange, featured comedian Larry David. Meanwhile Crypto.com — which recently bought the naming rights to Los Angeles’ Staples Center, now the Crypto.com Arena — got LeBron James on board.

Bitcoin is attempting to push higher after a rough few months. Its price has risen 11% in February after pulling back sharply in December and January. It was last trading near $42,600 after hitting an all-time high of nearly $69,000 in November.

— CNN Business’ Julia Horowitz and Reuters contributed to this report.

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